It's official - shootouts will be part of the 2008-2009 WCHA season. (You can click on the link for full WCHA press release) Much has been debated about this subject amongst the coaching circles since the idea was batted around at the AHCA (American Hockey Coaches Association) Convention this past April in Naples, FL. The WCHA won't be the first women's NCAA D-I conference to implement a shootout format. It will be, however, the first Women's D-I conference to have shootout results count in league standings. College Hockey America (CHA) tinkered with a shootout format last year which had no bearing on league standings and was as used more from a promotional / fan-experience perspective. The Women's WCHA announcement comes on the heals of the CCHA's recent decision to re-introduce a shootout format which will have bearing on final league standings. I say 're-introduce' because in the mid-90's, Hockey East (Men) used a shootout format.
So what does this mean for the Women's WCHA? For starters it means every game will have a winner with the integrity of the NCAA selection process intact. What is lost, is the "Good Tie". After a 60 minutes of regulation and a 5 minute overtime tie, you have to follow it up with a shootout win to have it mean something. Lose the shootout and your opponent gains 1 point more than you. In the WCHA last season UND and St. Cloud had 4 ties followed by Wisconsin and OSU with 3, Minnesota, Mankato and Bemidji each with 2. MN-Duluth had 0. For the Sioux that could have meant possible wins against OSU, St. Cloud twice and Mankato.
On the men's side, the WCHA has no imediate plans to implement a shootout format. I'm sure curious eyes will be watching the CCHA and how well received the shootout format is this year before making any decision. Time will tell... UND's first WCHA game is Oct. 9 & 10 vs. St. Cloud at the Ralph.